Crowdsourcing / Citizens’ science Drawings, prints, and other pictorial sources Photos Urban History Socio-Economic History Digital Cultural Heritage OA Archive Platform for data aggregation or retrieval

The Topotheque is a platform which makes local, historical relevant material and knowledge, that is kept in private hands, accessible online, in cooperation with the local population.

The Topotheque is an online archive, operated in local entities. It is a regional historical source of reference, focusing not only on preserving historical material kept in private hands but also on making it visible to the public.

Topotheques already exist in a number of different European countries. This allows for a comparison of regional historical conditions on a European level, making the diversity and common grounds of every-day life tangible. As a virtual collection, the Topotheque is easily expandable and doesn’t have to comply with editorial deadlines or page limits.

Mag. Alexander Schatek is the visionary and main driving force behind the Topotheque – he remembers:

“The Topotheque started out as merely private tool kit. I intended to practically manage my private footage by indexing, dating and localization. The IT department of my enterprise in Wiener Neustadt (AT) put my idea into practice and it eventually became evident that a Topotheque would also come in handy for others – users that want to safeguard and render historic material and knowledge detectable. I am personally highly delighted about the vast reactions and feedback which show, that the desire for memory, exchange and therewith building of identities can be gratified with the principle of the Topotheques.
Thank you to everyone contributing with commitment and trust to the successful path of the Topotheque!”

The main aim of the Topotheque is to make the historical heritage of Europe digitally available via the Internet – in accordance with up-to-date indexing one can find image or file content sorted by:

  • key words
  • date and
  • perspective on the map

Local history
… modern presentation

The diverse history of a community calls for a modern presentation: The unifying functionality of a database can accomplish the aggregation of dispersed material, documents and knowledge and step in where the sheer amount of images may overstrain the capacities of museums and local chronicles. The Topotheque may be expanded constantly, with search, link and location functionalities.

… regional preservation

Only regional forces can preserve local history comprehensively and in detail. For this reason, the Topotheque managers ought to be anchored in their municipality. With their knowledge of and familiarity with local circumstances, Topotheque managers can locate and identify relevant historical sources and in turn ensure high-quality indexing and localization of Topotheque entries.

… digital unification

With the functionality of indexation and localization, historical material dispersed in private property can be virtually unified by a Topotheque especially. For instance, searching the term “Main street 18” invokes all entries, in which this specific building is documented. Searching for terms such as “stroller” or “fieldwork” shows all images or texts that include said search terms likewise. Search results of great value can resolve from genealogical research, since many ancestors are traceable by name.

The original source material and all rights of use, which go beyond the presentation through a Topotheque, remain with the respective right holders.

Who works in a Topotheque?

Precondition for working with a Topotheque is interest and – often – volunteer support. Historical expert knowledge is not necessary. This way local history enthusiasts can participate in the maintenance. Results can be amended at any time, comments and tags can be refined continuously. Since a Topotheque is always published by an institution, it is based on editorial work. The Topotheque managers of a municipal Topotheque are responsible for the content. The validation of contributions by the Topotheque managers therefore always precedes the publication.

Who runs a Topotheque?
The principles of the Topotheque are: The access to historically relevant material should be freely accessible for interested people and the public. The handling of the provided material and their respective data must be trustworthy. This is why a Topotheque should only be managed by an institution that doesn’t have any commercial exploitation of the historic material in mind and which is why mainly public institutions like communities, associations or education facilities manage a Topotheque. It is these institutions that the population can place their trust in and therewith encourage private persons to allow public insight into private material.
Likewise, the Topotheque has proven its services when it comes to processing the history of an association or business. It functions as centre for joint team work between employees and/or retired employees who voluntarily care for the documentation of the company`s tradition.
The community
The Topotheque is more than a tool kit. It is a community of kindred spirit whose protection and accessibility of local history is important to. A newsletter keeps all of the Topotheque managers up to speed and the same level of knowledge. Blogs and meetings of the Topotheque managers offer a forum for discussion for everyone wanting to exchange experiences and requests. Technical support as well as assistance concerning content is available at all times.
The cooperation of the Topotheque with regional and local organizations as well as its connection with ICARUS – the international network of archives – feeds the Topotheque the power to grow. It is this cooperation which forms the basis of ensuring the principle of the Topotheque – to secure the public accessibility to local historic sources permanently and sustainably. The efforts enabling said principles are carried out to the most extend by volunteers. The joy of providing materials and knowledge are the engine fuelling the Topotheque. We are looking forward to your collaboration!

Project partners

With financial support by